Tuesday, December 18, 2012
A few days ago, someone very dear to me told me that if you want to make a change in your life you have to commit to it and put the actions into motion. He's told me this before, mind you, but I don't think it really took root until that day. When it comes down to it, changing seems so much more complicated than that.
In previous conversations, the entire time, all I kept thinking and saying was, "It's not that simple! This is who I've been my entire life. It's impossible to just up and change my entire being?!! It takes time." But when we talked this week, I realized an important piece of what he was telling me. He wasn't telling me that I HAD to change. That was an important piece I had to catch onto, because without that small piece of intel I was more on the defensive and unable to really hear what he was telling me. What he was saying was that IF - and that's a big IF - I truly wanted to make a change, then I had to buckle down, commit to the work, and just do it!
Now, this conversation had more to do with my own personal crap, but I realized that it's a tid-bit we can all take and put in place for other areas in our lives, especially with writing. Writing is not something you can do as a side, this-is-just-sorta-fun hobby. Well, let me re-phrase that, you can do it as a side hobby, but to be successful, to really obtain the dream of publication and maybe even the illusive writing as a full-time gig, you have to be committed. You have to put in the work.
I often tell people I know that I'm working two jobs - because that's the honest truth. Yes, I'm an HR professional who spends my days helping employees with their benefits and other HR related needs. But I'm also a writer. When I'm not doing HR duties, I'm thinking of writing, I'm reading blogs and posts on it, I'm sending submissions, I'm editing my work, and I'm plotting and writing new material. That's my life folks! And I'm not playing around with it.
I'm committed. And not in the sort of, kind of, I'll get to it when I can sort of way, either. I'm all the way in, and I will make it to the finish line one day!
Oh, and I did decide to be comitted to make the changes to my personal crap as well...if you all were wondering =).
Thursday, December 13, 2012
I've done a post before about using the deep emotional periods in your life to make your writing better and more realistic, and wanted to touch a bit more on that today. You know that old saying, about taking the lemons of your life and making lemonade. Well I've always been a person who's taken that saying to heart. The title of my blog says it all - I'm an eternal optimist who's decided, against my better judgment and in spite of my sensitive nature, to trudge in the swampy waters that are the writing business. And I feel that you have to be able to take everything in your life - all the good, the bad, and the ugly - and use it for the greater good that is your writing.
Would you have rather not gone through the dark and twisty times in your life, of course! But when it comes down to it, how can you write about real life, whether you're writing a contemporary tale or putting a paranormal twist on it, without having experienced all that life has to offer.
So don't regret those bad decisions you've made. Try not to push away the anger and hurt of your past. Embrace the best you've been and the absolutely, positively, most stupid ideas you've ever put into action (we all have those, I promise you). Use it. Use all of it to create the most realistic characters that have real emotions and deal with situations that we all can relate to. Use it to make your writing even better.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
So my submissions have been going pretty well. I've received my first full request from a really good independent publisher! Add to that finding out that I'm a semi-finalist for a contest with another independent publisher, which could result in the publication of my book, and I'm a happy camper.
Though it looked bleak for a while - with me having to re-do my query after being oh-so-sure that I was done with it - I'm feeling that all of the hard work is starting to pay off.
I'll keep you all posted!
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
In the race that is the publishing process, we all come to a point where we can get tired. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Even a professional runner can only go for so long before exhausting him or herself. The trick in any race is to have a carefully thought out plan of action for dealing with the many hurdles and hills that you're bound to encounter.
I've been thinking of that lately and in my query plan of action I've decided to place in brief moments of rest so I can get a second wind. Rest and encouragement from my loved ones really help me to stay focused and on track, something invaluable to every writer.
This week I had a point where I became tired, so last night I took a break and just relaxed a bit. I talked with my bestie, who just happened to remind me of how awesome I am (no kidding, she literally just happened to call to tell me how she'd read this book and how mine is just as great and it's only a matter of time for me). That small amount of encouragement and rest was exactly what I needed to get back on my grind. And today I researched at least two independent publishers that I feel Cursed will be a great addition to, and have even had a spark of an urg to write again.
Since my new story has a shiny, new outline it might be time to get my writing hat on!!! All in all, I'm feeling refreshed and ready to go!!!
How do you all get your second wind?
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
So, I've continued to submit Cursed to varying independent publishing houses and agents. The process reminded me of the fact that so much of this business is a waiting game. One of the major parts of a writer's job is to keep calm as s/he waits for the jury to come back with the verdict as to whether their manuscripts are worthy.
And in that waiting, craziness can surely set in.
I go from moments of great optimism where I think it's only a matter of time before someone discovers my overall awesomeness, to moments when I feel my writing's complete crap and I should give up now. In those moments, I find that keeping myself busy helps the most.
So, what do I do to keep my brain from overheating and exploding? I read. I finished the outline for my new book. I write. I ponder the unknown questions the universe has to offer to me. I keep on trucking.
My boyfriend actually spouted some profound wisdom to me last night on waiting - though it had nothing to do with me waiting on agents/publishers. He explained that I have to live in the now and stop fantasizing about what will be, because all that fantasizing will ultimately make me crazy.
So that's what I'm doing. I wrote a list of all of the things I have to be thankful for - the things that make me happy overall. And I'm going to keep focused on that list and try my best not to get caught up in the waiting game and fantasizing on what will be once I "make it". Only time will tell how it will work.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
So, I found out today that the query letter I thought was ready for submissions wasn't all that ready. To say that I'm heartbroken is a bit of an understatement. I'd sent it to various sites and had many folks look it over, and thought I finally had gotten it right, only to find that it still isn't there. It's not even close to being there.
In the pursuit of my writing career and the skills needed to succeed with it, writing query letters is my one big Achilles' Heel.
I'm going back to the drawing board with this one...though I have to say that I'm not feeling very hopeful right now. We'll see.
Happy Writing Everyone!!!
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
So, I recently read a really amazing post on YA Highway about how trying to get published is like hoping for one of the seats to turn around for you when competing on The Voice. It rang so true for me when I read it, especially given one of the recent rejections I'd received from an agent I queried.
See, I've been making the rounds in the querying game. I've done this dance before, mind you, but not with as much determination and resolve. The two previous times I tried to query, I found myself sending letters to about twenty or so agents. Each time I at least got one or two requests for pages, which eventually ended in rejection. Now I've always had good encouragement from those who've asked me for pages - responses such as, "I really like your writing, but I don't think the concept is unique enough for this packed market." Or, "You have great descriptions, but the market is too crowded." But there was always something - most likely my lack of true determination - that would cause me to immediately stop and decide to either do a major re-write or to shelve the story all together due to thinking the timing wasn't right.
This time, when I entered the querying fighting ring, I told myself that I'd be bold. I wasn't leaving this fight until I'd submitted to darn near every agent and publishing house I could, or die trying! But, unlike my other two attempts, I'm not really getting any bites - and that scares me a little. And there's nothing in form rejections that let you know if it's just that the book isn't in their tastes, or if you're a terrible writer and should throw your hands up now and quit forever (or just write for your kiddos and loved ones). So it's hard to navigate the ups and downs of the querying process and not get discouraged.
This changed for me a bit on last Friday, when I received what felt like my millionth rejection. I opened the email, waiting for the punch to the gut I'd come to expect, and found a light at the end of my tunnel. She explained that she liked my writing, but isn't a big fan of urban fantasy. She also encouraged me to continue and stated that she felt sure I'd have representation in no time!
So when I read the post on YA Highway about how querying is all about tastes, and how it's rare that every agent you submit to will ask for pages, or will offer representation, it really hit home for me. Even though this dream seems impossible at times, I have to know in my heart and gut that I'm good. It's all a matter of time, folks. One of these days, one of these agents or editors is going to recognize my awesomeness for what it is and will help me to make my dream into a reality. It might take time, and a hell of a lot of hard work, but I'm in for the long haul. And I WILL. NOT. GIVE. UP!!!
How do you all handle the querying dance? What motivates you to keep going?
Monday, October 22, 2012
This weekend I was faced with one of the many things that can completely derail a writer when he or she is attempting to be as productive as possible, the inconvenient and always annoying illness - more specifically, in my case, my chronic sinisitis. There I was folks, kicking butts and taking names in my awesome ability to research the heck out of a wide range of topics while waiting for my story to present it itself to me, and then my nose starts acting up!!! To say that I was angry, well, that doesn't even cut it.
I found myself laid up in my bed (or on the couch, depending on what time of the day it was), able to do nothing more than sleep and mindlessly watch bad television while heavily medicating myself so I could function.
So, what did I do to try to keep productive while incapacitated?
I changed my viewpoint of the situation I was in.
Instead of being angry with my bum sinus cavity for acting an ass, I shifted my focus on resting so I could get better sooner. See, normally I work myself to the bone, only stopping to rest after office hours or during the weekend. It seems sad to waste perfectly good Paid Time Off hours on being sick, so I try to avoid this at all costs. But this time I took a day or two off to really focus on getting better. Being at work while sick isn't really helping myself or anyone else, and it prolongs my illness by days, I'm sure. And when I was feeling a bit better, I focused my time on reading more and researching agents and publishing houses for my two books.
So, when it comes down to it, sometimes resting oneself can be just as important to being productive as writing, reading, and any other activity a writer may be involved in.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
So, as always, it's been way too long since I last posted. I definitely have to get better at this regular posting thing. In the months since I last spoke to you guys, nothing much has happened. I got comfy in my day job, got financially stable for the first time in a few years, and am feeling more like my good ol' writing machine self. I have a new story that I'm working on, while querying the one I just finished polishing. I've amassed what feels like a ton of rejections, but I know that that's the business and will keep on trucking (said while putting all feelings of failure in a box so I can completely ignore them =) ).
The biggest issue I'm having right now is with really getting into my new story. I always have what I like to think of as a lull in excitement/activity when it comes to my writing. These lulls happen right as I start a new project - before the main character's voice starts taking up serious space in my head - and when I'm about 3/4 of the way through - when I'm having to trudge through to the end. But I have to say, the sense of anticipation that I get while waiting for the character to really start speaking to me is both tortuous and exciting all at once.
So what do I do while I wait for this roller coaster ride to start up - why, research of course! Since I know my main character is Pakistani, I'm going to look up everything I can on that culture - food, clothes, religion, etc. I want to know what it's like for those who live in Pakistan, and those who have migrated to other countries as well. What are the issues that face a young Pakistani girl in this day and age. And I have to say I've been very inspired by the tale of Malala Yousufzai, a young girl who was shot in Pakistan for daring to continue with her education and for speaking up for young Pakistani girls there. In doing this searching, I'm hoping that Alana will begin speaking to me and my story will begin to take shape.
What do you do when you hit a lull in your writing? How do you break the surface of a new tale.
Until next time - and hopefully it won't be as long!!!
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
THE PATHS TO PUBLICATION: SELF PUBLISHING VS TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING AND THE ALL POWERFUL DEBUT TITLE
As I previously stated, I went to an amazing writers conference this weekend in Houston, hosted by the Houston Writers Guild. There were a variety of speakers with a wealth of information, and I'm happy to say that I made a few friendly contacts that I hope to keep for many years to come. But one of the most valuable lessons I learned while soaking up the knowledge around me was that while self publishing is definitely a more acceptable alternative to traditional publishing now a days, choosing that path comes with consequences all writers need to consider. Those consequences have everything to do with the affect it has on being considered a debut author.
See, in publishing there's nothing more precious than the "debut" title...and when it comes down to it, folks, you only get it once. Whether it be with a major publishing house or self publishing with Amazon, you only get the benefit of the doubt that comes with being a debut author that first time your name graces a cover. And that benefit of the doubt can make or break your shot at representation or at obtaining a contract.
From what was explained, one of the ways the publishing gods determine whether or not they'll work with an author is by determining how profitable they think that person will be. The way that profitability is shown is either one of two ways:
- Publishers knows that they'll make a particular profit on a hardback copy of a book, something along the lines of $12.
- If you've already done the self publishing route, they'll take the number of sales you've acquired (whether it's 500 or 5000) and multiply that number by the $12 they can expect to make per book.
- This can be a problem if your sales don't amount to a profit they want. It could cause publishers to decide against taking on your project.
- If you're a debut author, publishers will take a well-known author with a similar book and use an estimate of their sales for this calculation. This number will often be advantageous to the author and can push the publisher in a positive direction when deciding to take on the project.
As you can see, this method for determining profitability can definitely impact an author's ability to get on with a traditional publisher, and is something we all should think about.
Like many writers, I've been seriously considering the self publishing route. Though I'm not considering it for my current project - one that I absolutely love and hope that the publishing community will love as well - I've been thinking on it as a possibility for my earlier works. As I continue to learn about the various facets of this industry, my thoughts and feelings continue to change, making my head spin with all of the possibilities. What I do know is that I have to be diligent in learning as much as I can about the industry before I make any major moves. And I hope that once I do jump it's with as much foresight and understanding as possible.